True Thomas

(from “Journeys of the Heart”)


Thomas lay upon the grassy banks
And beheld a lady gay
Come riding o’er so brisk and bold
All on the ferny brae

And her skirt was of the silk so green
And her cloak the velvet fine
And at each toss her horse’s mane
Rang fifty bells and nine

And Thomas did salute her,
Bowing down upon his knee
And he’s said, ‘Well met, enchanting one,
You’re the flow’r of this country’

And as he’s gazed upon her
Oh, so blind with love was he
That he has kissed her ruby lips
All ‘neath the Eildon Tree

‘Oh, now you’ve kissed me, Thomas
You must ride away with me
To serve my will for seven years
Whate’er your chance may be’

And she’s mounted up her snow-white steed
And pulled Thomas up behind
And aye, each time her bridle rang
They flew swift as the wind

And on they road and farther on
Till they spied a garden green
And she’s said, ‘Light down, dear Thomas
For we near my fair country

And take this bread and wine
And lay your head down on my knee
For when your fill you’ve eaten
I will show you fairlies three

See the narrow road to Paradise
How it winds through thorn and tree
The broad road leads to the gates of Hell
Though fair it seems to be

But see you not yon farther road
Winding round the lily lea
That is the road to my fair land
Whence you must go with me

But hold your tongue, dear Thomas
And answer only unto me
For should you speak unto another
Your own home you ne’er will see’

When Thomas came into the hall
Oh, a well-bred man was he
They asked him questions one and all
But not one word spoke he

It’s of woven clouds she’s made the roof
And of flowered vines the walls
And jewels did shower down as rain
That night among them all

And each day brought Thomas wonders
Never seen be mortal eye
And each night brought Thomas wonders
As next the lady he did lie

But she’s rose and said, ‘Dear Thomas,
Now it’s time you were away.
For seven years have passed and gone
Though it seems but seven days’

‘If it’s seven years, my lady,
Since my face on earth was seen,
Pray give to me some token
That I may prove where I have been’

And it’s on they rode and farther on
To the Huntley Banks rode she
And she set him down upon the ground
Beside the Eildon Tree

‘As you’d have a token , Thomas,
A rare token shall it be,
For the gift I give you, Thomas,
Is a tongue that cannot lie’

But he’s cried, ‘I pray you, lady,
And give not this gift to me,
For how may I counsel prince or lord
Or court a fair lady?’

‘Be careful in your silence
As you’re careful what you say,
May your truth outlive them all,’ she said
As she turned and rode away


© 1984 Danny Carnahan/Post-Trad Music

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